With racing starting an hour early to compensate for lost races earlier in the week, sailors hitting the water for the final day of the 2018 49er and Nacra 17 European Championship saw what by now is a rare sight: A consistent 8-11 knot breeze! Race officials across all four courses on Gdansk Bay rushed into action, burning through races and getting scores on the board across all fleets. With so few Gold Fleet races conducted thus far, all three classes would see their championships decided on the final day.
With all three gold fleets getting 3 or 4 races in before noon, the fleets returned to shore in anticipation. They’d soon be notified of their scores, with the top ten teams suiting back up for their final, double-points Medal Race.
With 2017 European Champs Ruggero Tita and Catarina Banti winning 6 of the 7 Gold Fleet races, the medal race was mostly a formality. Mathematically the Italian pair could still fall out of contention – however unlikely – and indeed Tita and Banti saved their worst race for last. They started late, on port tack, while Rio Silver Medalists Waterhouse/Darmanin (AUS) charged off on foils to the left corner of the race course and a big lead. With barely 5 minutes on each leg of the short Medal Race, Tita/Banti never found the chance to claw back positions, though they didn’t need to: Despite a 7th place and 14 points on the board, Tita/Banti became the first repeat European Champions in the foiling Nacra 17.
The Aussies would have a typically strong performance in the moderate winds while British Sailing Teammates Saxton/Boniface and Gimson/Burnet – both ahead of the Aussies – fought each other around the short course. Genuises in the breeze, Waterhouse/Darmanin continued to extend their lead, and their bullet, combined with average finishes from the duelling English teams allowed them to jump both UK teams.to take 5th for the event.
Top female helm Gemma Jones and crew Jason Saunders finished just ahead of Tita/Banti while keeping a charging Fernando Echavarri/Tara Pacheco behind; they would hold on to the second podium place and earn their silver medal with a strong and consistent week, and just 3 races all week outside the top ten.. All week long Echavarri/Pacheco were smoking in the light air, but when the breeze came on they found it hard to hang with the leaders – a problem Echavarri said he and Tara “are working hard to fix” before next month’s World Championship in Aarhus, Denmark.